Primetime Pilot Panic: Screenings Updates

The marathon pilot screenings at the broadcast networks are in full force. While they are rarely the deciding factor in the networks’ final series pickup decisions, they help solidify early standouts’ frontrunner positions and sometimes breathe life into pilots that might have been written off too soon. Here are some updates I heard today. (If some pilots, like ALCATRAZ and POE, are not mentioned in this update, they are in the one from yesterday, so check out that one too.)

The only element of uncertainly about GOOD CHRISTIAN BITCHES‘ future as a new ABC series next season seems to be what it will be called as it will definitely won’t be GCB. After a great screening today, the dramedy executive produced by Darren Star appears a sure thing, possibly as a companion to Desperate Housewives given that it’s been referred to as “Desperate Housewives in Dallas.” Probably the biggest surprise today was the mixed reaction to Shonda Rhimes’ drama SCANDAL, once considered a lock. But with Rhimes behind it, the project is still in the running. Also mixed was the reaction to family/dance drama GRACE, which once again got praise for its elaborate dance sequences and not so much for the narrative. Still a possibility to run behind Dancing With the Stars. Early comedy favorites, SUBURGATORY and SMOTHERED, continue to fly high after good screenings today and yesterday, respectively. Reaction to the Jenna Elfman-starring comedy BAD MOM was more mixed. Just like at the testing of the pilot, Elfman herself got high marks. Meanwhile, I hear MY FREAKIN’ FAMILY and OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS didn’t fare well. Yet to be screened are several early standouts including ONCE UPON A TIME, THE RIVER, PAN AM, DON’T TRUST THE BITCH IN APT. 23 and UNTITLED TIM ALLEN.

WEEKENDS AT BELLEVUE, the medical drama in the vein of House that Fox picked up at the last minute in a turnaround from NBC, continues to look good as a potential companion to House after a strong screening today. Also solid were the showings of the Ethan Hawke-starring spy drama EXIT STRATEGY and the Shawn Levy-directed comedy FAMILY ALBUM, while comedy COUNCIL OF DADS didn’t look good. WEEKENDS AT BELLEVUE and EXIT STRATEGY have emerged as frontrunners on the drama side, along with the Kiefer Sutherland starrer TOUCH, which is yet to film a pilot.

Taking a page from Leslie Moonves’ playbook, new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt has put the fear of god into all his new underlings about keeping pilot information confidential. The biggest news out of NBC is that David E. Kelley’s WONDER WOMAN pilot has been delivered and it’s getting positive reaction. Also in is another remake, that of U.K.’s PRIME SUSPECT, and it appears very strong, currently considered a frontrunner alongside early standout SMASH and Kyle Killen’s Inception-style REM, which had been picking up steam. Slightly below on the buzz scale are period drama PLAYBOY and WONDER WOMAN, both of which are very much in contention, followed by another pair, Stephen Gaghan’s METRO and the fantastical GRIMM.

No major changes at CBS where comedy HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN screened well today. UNTITLED PETER KNIGHT and TWO BROKE GIRLS, which will screen today, continue to garner buzz on the comedy side, with a couple of high-profile pilots, including THE ASSISTANTS and UNTITLED SPORTS SHOW yet to be seen. On the drama side, ROOKIES still looks rock-solid, with PERSON OF INTEREST gaining momentum. UNTITLED SUSANNAH GRANT medical drama also looks very good after the pilot was re-cut, with P.I. show HAIL MARY and procedural THE REMEMBERER remaining in contention.

CW’s standings also appear to be status quo, with HART OF DIXIE and THE SECRET CIRCLE still a cut above, pending CIRCLE‘s screening tomorrow. HEAVENLY and procedural COOPER & STONE come next, followed by zombie drama AWAKENING and DANNI LOWINSKI, both of which had so-so screenings today.


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